MIE business plan a road to reform

Meat Industry Excellence says it will give farmers a ''road map for reform'' of the red meat sector through what it promises will be a ''grunty and robust'' business plan.

The group, which was formed last year to push for reform in the industry, has received funding from Beef and Lamb New Zealand for the plan.

The $219,000 project included MIE contracting independent consulting firms to research improved procurement models, flow-on effects on industry profitability and communicating those findings to the sector.

Farmers voted in support of an MIE remit at Beef and Lamb NZ's annual meeting in March seeking funding support for its initiatives.

Yesterday, Beef and Lamb NZ's chairman James Parsons said the board had worked with MIE since the vote and were satisfied a ''well thought out'' business plan had been developed.

In his address to MIE's annual meeting in Wellington yesterday, chairman John McCarthy said the group had consulted widely, not only with farmers but also with business leaders from both within and outside the agricultural sector.

In the main, there had been ''overwhelming support'' as to the need to reform the industry model.

The current model was defined by ''patch protection and rampant individuality at virtually every level''.

''It is epitomised by destructive competition practices, especially around procurement and indeed in the marketing area, recently highlighted by Welsh farmer protests around our product positioning,'' he said.

The biggest opposition had come from within the industry, which was ''understandable behaviour''.

''There is a saying that turkeys don't wish for Christmas.

"It is a fact that, if we get our way, there will be attrition, especially at board and senior management level.

''Our focus is around adding value and cutting cost. It makes no sense to have a number of chief executives when one will do the trick.

"Less is more if we are to genuinely address the structural problems endemic in this industry,'' Mr McCarthy said.

This year would be ''make or break'' and farmers would be given the road map for reform through the credible and substantiated findings of the business plan, he said.

''We will identify the size of the prize. We will seek farmer support, at the end of the day we, the farmers, will get what we wish for, we will get the future we deserve.

''Where we go from here is up to farmers. MIE is putting up the choices,'' he said.

Mr Parsons said farmer and broad industry support would be important to complete the project.

MIE would need strong engagement from farmers and the broader industry to ensure quality and informed analysis was undertaken, he said.

sally.rae@odt.co.nz

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